Holy Hum transcends grief

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      Holy Hum
      All of My Bodies (Heavy Lark)

      While on tour in Alberta over the winter of 2011, Andrew Lee—the multidisciplinary artist behind Holy Hum—got a call from his father. He revealed that he was very sick with a rare and aggressive form of thyroid cancer. Lee turned the van around, cancelled the remaining shows, and spent the next month at his dad’s bedside, sitting for hours in various hospitals until his father passed away.

      The background to All of My Bodies goes some way towards explaining its incredible power. Paralyzingly emotive, the 11-track album explores what it means to lose a loved one, how to live a good life, and how to come to terms with death.

      The record is, in a word, transcen­dent. Rich soundscapes engulf the listener from the opening seconds, as heavily reverbed synth drones swell around muscular drum hits and Lee’s velvety tones. “You reached out your hand to mine/You said this moment here/Turn it into a song for me,” he croons on the title track with a passion that is unflinchingly authentic.

      It’s not easy tackling the complexity of losing a parent, and it’s more difficult still to capture one’s grief in song. Lee does this by oscillating between rawness and resignation, interspersing vocal-heavy numbers with instrumental tracks to convey the depth of his feeling both in and outside of language. Understandably, All of My Bodies is not an easy listen. Tracks like “White Buzz” challenge Lee’s audience to endure the depth of his frustrations with heavily distorted, atonal noise solos, while even the softer “Ready to Have It” (a song underscored by smooth clarinets and melodic string harmonies) is demanding in its immensity.

      While difficult, All of My Bodies is both urgent and necessary. Falling somewhere between modern classical music and a Mogwai-esque soundscape, the album verges on a modern masterpiece. Andrew Lee’s father would be proud.

      Follow Kate Wilson on Twitter @KateWilsonSays